My holiday last week in Norfolk is now a dim and distant memory having returned to heavy workload in the office. While away we visited the new small zoo at Cromer which was quite interesting as it held a number of animals that I have seen before. The light was not great but some of the enclosures were reasonable for getting some photographs after a bit of careful positioning.
Zoos generate a lot of mixed feelings and of course everyone would ideally like to see animals running, flying or swimming free and wild. My view is that not only do they undertake very important conservation work and are making great steps for improving the enclosures for the animals but also they offer the chance for the public to get a glimpse of the wonderful diversity of this planet which they would not normally get to see. As a bonus they also provide a good practice ground for the photographer.
The zoo at Cromer is known as the 'Amazona Zoo' so it seems appropriate to start this post with an Amazon Parrot
The zoo held a couple of owls. The problem will photographing owls in zoos is that the visit in the daytime coincides with when they want to sleep, like this burrowing owl, and so they don't tend to make great subjects for the camera.
but the light in there was even worse than it was outside.
I then turned my attention to some mammals. There was a heap of slightly dejected looking spider monkeys.
There were some interesting cats that you do not often see in the zoo including puma and ocelot and which I have not put in front of the camera lens before, although unfortunately the enclosure of the latter was just not suitable for getting any photographs, particularly when combined with the low light levels and very active cats. The big cats all looked to be in real great condition.
Just a small warning before the next photograph as it shows graphic content of a puma feeding on a rabbit. Nature is not always attractive when predator is consuming prey but I think you will agree the puma is a wonderful looking animal.
I occasionally receive emails asking how I manage to get photographs in zoo where there is no mesh showing and it looks like you are inside the enclosure. This is achieved by a combination of three factors. Firstly careful positioning as you ideally want to get the camera as close to the mesh as possible and the animal at some distance away in the enclosure. Incidental the smaller the mesh size the more difficult it is to overcome. Secondly you need a lens of reasonable focal length as this creates a shallower depth of field (these shots were taken with a 300mm lens which is probably the minimum you can get away with). Thirdly you need to open the lens aperture right up (F4 in the case of my 300mm). The result of all this is that it puts the mesh so far out of focus that it effectively disappears as can be seen in the jaguar photograph.
To finish off I have noticed on my recent zoo trips that big cats start licking their lips when they see me which is a bit concerning!